Legal UK Poker Sites – The Gaming Commission
The Gambling Commission has been overseeing all gambling activity in the United Kingdom since it was formed in 2007 – following an act of parliament setting it up in 2005. This includes land based gambling, the national lottery and all online gambling activities.
From October 2014, any poker site wishing to offer games to UK players needed a license. This could come from the UK authorities, or via one of the whitelisted gambling jurisdictions that the Gaming Commission worked with. These include Gibraltar, Malta and the Isle of Man. In order to be compliant, poker sites needed to show that player’s bankrolls were protected, that problem gambling controls were in place and that fraud and money laundering controls were solid.
All of the major poker sites became licensees, with only a small number of ‘skins’ on minor networks pulling out of the UK.
Popular UK Poker Sites
There are a lot of good sites to choose from for UK players. These include the biggest sites worldwide, and lots of smaller and more creative networks too. Here are some rooms which are currently at the top of the rankings in terms of the number of players at their tables.
#1 – 888 Poker: 888 Poker are a popular choice. This site hits the balance between having a lot of choice and easy games. You’ll find the usual cash game and tournament formats at 888 Poker, and also novel games like the Blast! (lottery jackpot sit n goes) and SNAP (fast fold) formats. You can also qualify for live poker events around the world here.
What I like best about 888 Poker is that it works as a mobile poker site or via a download. You will also get to try the games out for free, with £20 in tokens available simply for registering. Once you start to play, you’ll benefit from a loyalty scheme, daily wheel spin bonuses and plenty of original promotions.
#2 – PokerStars: Isle of Man based PokerStars are the highest traffic poker room by a wide margin. This site has 5x the players of even their closest rivals, and dwarf the rest of the field. While the size of this site does attract a lot of pro and semi-pro players, there are still some very good reasons to check out the games. The choice is amazing, with more poker variants and bigger games running that at any of the other sites. This applies to tournaments too. Events like the World Championship of Online Poker are huge draws, and there are plenty of satellite qualifiers.
Payment Methods for UK Poker Sites
One advantage of regulated poker sites is that a lot of payment options become available for players. These include PayPal, which is only welcomed from a handful of countries and at the biggest and best-known PayPal poker sites.
The easiest method of getting to the UK’s real money poker table is to use your debit or credit card. In addition to Visa and MasterCard, many smaller networks can be used. These include Switch, Solo, Maestro and Visa Electron. If you don’t have a card of your own, then you can get a prepaid one (PaySafeCard, UKash) or a virtual Visa through 3rd parties like EcoCard.
A separate category of poker payment method are the electronic wallets or ‘eWallets’. PayPal is the best known, though there are many more options. Popular ones for poker payments include Skrill and Neteller. The advantage of choosing one of these is that your bank info and the poker sites are kept separate. While there are rarely any issues in the UK’s regulated market, this gives peace of mind to a lot of players.
Withdrawing your money takes several formats too. Some card payments will not work for withdrawals. MasterCard don’t allow this, and most prepaid voucher type cards are one-way. In this case, the usual way of withdrawing is via a local bank transfer. Paper checks (or ‘cheques’ in the UK!) are also possible. You will be able to deposit and withdraw from your eWallet systems as often as you wish.